Surprising Press Freedom Rankings

Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index for 2012 shows some interesting patterns. Overall, press freedom—according to the measurements employed—does not correlate well with levels of economic or social development. Southeast Asia, for example, is depicted as much more restrictive than sub-Saharan Africa, a much poorer region. The only two Southeast Asian countries that make the middle category, Cambodia and Timor Leste, are two of the poorest states in the region. Wealthy Singapore, on the other hand, is placed 135th out of 179 countries surveyed, slightly above Thailand and the Philippines.

Sub-Saharan Africa has several standouts. Namibia is placed in the highest category, and Cape Verde is rated ahead of Canada, Denmark, and Sweden. Mali, Niger, Tanzania, Ghana, South Africa, Botswana, and Comoros all come out ahead of the United States. (The United States received an unusually low ranking this year due to the arrests of several journalists covering the “Occupy Wall Street” movement.)

In the former Soviet realm, Estonia distinguished itself, as is often the case. According to the report, Estonia trails only Finland and Norway in regard to freedom of the press.

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